NCMA/ICPI Design Award of Excellence Winner - Commercial
Faith Lutheran Chapel & Performing Arts Center


The Chapel & Performing Arts Center located in Las Vegas, Nevada, was designed to equally exhibit the spiritual and educational facets of the Faith Lutheran Junior/Senior High School’s program. The Center is the fourth building completed on the Faith Lutheran campus. The existing three buildings on campus are the classroom building, the student center and the gymnasium, which all utilize integral colored concrete masonry units for both interior and exteriors walls. Aesthetically, the richness and textures of the concrete block mirror the adjacent Red Rock Canyon and tie the campus to the neighborhood. Both smooth-faced and split-faced CMU block were used throughout the project. A chocolate-colored CMU was specified as the predominant color and two accent colors used in horizontal bands—buff and mandarin—to match the existing campus. The contrast of the textures in addition to the readily available accent colors allowed the design to mimic the natural surroundings of the Las Vegas Valley.

The 30,000-square-foot (2787 square-meter) Center includes an 800-seat chapel/auditorium, dressing rooms, band/choir support spaces, costume/prop storage, lobby space used to display student art work, three classrooms, and administrative offices. The main area of the building contains the stage, fly loft and auditorium seating area. This space allows the school to perform very technical and large scale productions and is utilized weekly for chapel by the students and teachers. The lobby of the Center is the main venue on campus for the display of student art work.

Design Award judges awarded the Center an Award of Excellence because the concrete masonry banding colors are placed carefully throughout the exterior wall so as to complement and not compete with the rhythmic elements of the steel and concrete overhangs. In addition, the concrete masonry walls of the vestibule bring the outside wall inside.

According to James C. Lord II, AIA, concrete masonry units were selected for their aesthetics, structural characteristics and their acoustical properties.

A distinguishing feature of the Center is the 55-foot (16.8-meter) tall bell tower. The tower consists primarily of concrete masonry units with horizontal steel members comprising the ribs. The bell tower carillon sounds every hour as it welcomes visitors to the campus. In addition to the bell tower, a major design feature of the performing arts center is the cross monument which faces east towards the adjacent roadway, which is also constructed of masonry and is illuminated in the evening.

The largest walls within the Center make up the stage fly-loft, ranging in size from 54-feet (16.5-meter) tall with the widest portion at 87 feet (26.5 meters). As a single story building, the majority of the walls range in height from approximately 20 to 34 feet (6.1 to 10.4 meters). For superior performance, the 8- and 12-inch (203- and 305-mm) concrete masonry walls are fully grouted with steel reinforcing used as the primary structural system throughout the project.

The Center serves many functions for the school. It is used as both a performance space and as a typical classroom and administrative facility. Acoustical separation between these different functions was critical to the success of the projects. “CMUs have allowed us to design a facility with a material that not only provides structural support, but also satisfies the acoustical needs of the multi-purpose function of the project,” says Lord.

Incorporating a variety of sustainable strategies which decrease its energy consumption and improves occupant comfort, the Faith Lutheran Chapel & Performing Arts Center has been recognized by NV Energy’s Sure Bet for Schools program. This program awards local schools rebate incentives for incorporating energy efficient design into their buildings.

Sustainable Design

The building’s HVAC system incorporates a technology that automatically reduces cooling loads when occupants are not present and resets to the desired temperature when they return. This is a significant energy saving feature in a Southern Nevada climate in which air conditioning is required throughout much of the year. The thermal mass of the exterior concrete masonry walls also aids in the reduction of air conditioning necessary to maintain an acceptable level of comfort. The center has also utilized vestibules located at the main entrances/exits of the building. These spaces function essentially as air locks allowing occupants to enter and exit the building with a minimum amount of heat infiltration.

One of the main features of the building’s design is the main lobby. The lobby incorporates tall   windows that open up views to the circular courtyard at the center of campus. These windows utilize both exterior canopies and automated interior sun shades. Both elements allow views of the courtyard from the interior while reducing overall heat gain from the sun. CMD

KGA Architecture, Las Vegas, Nevada

Mason Contractor 
Apple Masonry Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada

Block Producer 
Cind-R- Lite Company, Las Vegas, Nevada